Tax-Related Identity Theft

Brought to you by our friends at the FTC

An identity thief may use your Social Security number (SSN) to get a tax refund or a job. This is tax-related identity theft. You may not know it has happened until:

  • the IRS sends you a letter by mail saying they have gotten a suspicious tax return that uses your SSN, or
  • you try to efile your return but it’s rejected as a duplicate because a return already has been filed using your SSN

If the IRS sends you a letter, follow the instructions in the letter. Then visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the identity theft to both the IRS and the FTC and get a recovery plan.

Uncovering Tax-Related Identity Theft

If someone uses your SSN to file for a tax refund before you do, here’s what happens: When you file your return, IRS records will show that someone else has already filed and gotten a refund. If you file by mail, the IRS will send you a notice or letter in the mail saying that more than one return was filed for you. If you try to efile, the IRS will reject your tax return as a duplicate filing.

If someone uses your SSN to get a job, the employer may report that person’s income to the IRS using your SSN. When you file your tax return, you wouldn’t have included those earnings. IRS records will show you failed to report all your income. The agency will send you a notice saying you had wages that you didn’t report. But the IRS doesn’t know those wages were reported by an employer you don’t know, for work performed by someone else.

IRS notices about tax-related identity theft are sent by mail. The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with a taxpayer by sending an email, text, or social media message that asks for personal or financial information. The IRS also does not call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests. And, the IRS will never ask you to wire money, pay with a gift card or prepaid debit card, or share your credit card information over the phone.

If you get an email, text, or other electronic message that claims to be from the IRS, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, forward it to phishing@irs.gov. And report IRS imposters to the US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at tigta.gov.

Dealing With Tax-Related Identity Theft

If the IRS sends you a notice or letter saying that someone used your SSN to get a tax refund, or saying there’s another problem, respond quickly and follow the instructions in the letter.

  • Call the IRS using the telephone number given in the letter. You’ll need the letter and a copy of your prior year’s tax return when you call to help verify your identity. Visit the IRS’s guide, IRS Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How It Works, for more information.

If you think someone used your SSN to file for a tax refund, but you haven’t gotten a letter from the IRS, use IdentityTheft.gov to report it to the IRS and FTC and get a recovery plan.

  • Visit IdentityTheft.gov to complete an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039) and submit it to the IRS online so that the IRS can begin resolving your case. You’ll also be reporting the identity theft to the FTC.
  • File your tax return, and pay any taxes you owe. If you can’t efile your tax return, you may need to mail a paper return.

Other Steps to Repair Identity Theft

Next, it’s important to limit the potential damage from identity theft.


Questions? Visit IdentityTheft.gov for help with these important steps. 

Have access to your accounts with USAgencies Credit Union 24/7 with our Online and Mobile Banking. Not enrolled yet? Connect with us today to get started by calling 503-275-0300 Option 3.

5 Fun Ways to Save As a Family

Save to Win – The Savings Account That Pays to Play

Save to Win is a prize-linked savings share certificate account that offers members the chance to win prizes in addition to earning regular interest. It requires a small opening deposit of $25 and allows additional deposits during term of the account.  The best part about those additional deposits – for every $25 deposit ( up to $250 per month ), the member earns one entry into the monthly and quarterly prize drawings on a credit union, state and national level.

This account has been changing lives of credit union members since 2009. This innovative and national award winning prize-linked savings product was designed to help low-to-moderate income people improve their financial lives and create better savings habits. This is done by encouraging monthly those $25 deposits with the chance of winning, just for saving! The funds are also held in the account for 12 months, and withdrawals are limited to one per twelve-month certificate term with a fee of $25 (it is, after all, SAVE to Win). This helps the balance grow, which creates a rainy day fund for members. There is no minimum number of deposits required, but there is a maximum of 10 entries per month/30 entries per quarter per member*.

USAgencies Credit Union has had two lucky members win on a State and National level in cash prizes totaling $1,500 all because they were SAVING! How exciting is that?!

Shauna, a USAgencies member who won in November of 2018 said “I am having a lot of fun with the Save To Win CD. I have been saving the maximum $250 every month to get the maximum number of entries in the drawing. I have enjoyed getting contacted by the credit union staff telling me I’ve won a drawing. It’s fun and more lucrative than interest has been lately!”

If you are struggling to save and have difficulty establishing a savings mindset, consider the Save to Win. It is a nice incentive to establish savings, while having fun and potentially winning prizes.

So, are you ready to Save to Win? Because we are ready to help!


Questions? Connect with a Member Services Specialists today at 503-275-0300 Option 3 or visit the Save To Win FAQ Page.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for a chance to win a $50 cash prize** during our Read to Win contest!

Entering the contest is easy.  Here’s how it works:

  • Subscribe to our blog by entering your email in the box above the “Follow” button on the left menu
  • Each week in February, we will publish a blog along with the trivia question at the end of each blog
  • Email your answers to social@usacu.org by February 28, 2019

QUESTION 3:  What is the maximum dollar amount you can deposit each month for the chance to be entered into the monthly and quarterly drawings?

Official Contest Rules

**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Terms and conditions apply, read the official contest rules for complete details. open to individuals ages 18 and over. Board of Directors, Volunteers and Employees of USACU and their immediate families and individuals living in the same household are ineligible. Void where prohibited.

*Terms and conditions apply, read the official rules for complete details. Open to individuals age 18 and over residing in Oregon. Board of Directions, Volunteers and Employees of USACU and their immediate families are ineligible. 

Life Happens – Protect Your Family

Life can be wonderful. But it can also get complicated when unexpected events happen. Protecting your loan balance or loan payments against death, disability or involuntary unemployment could help not only protect your finances, but also your family. This is why USAgencies Credit Union offers MEMBER’S CHOICE™ Borrower Security*.

Purchasing protection is completely voluntary and won’t affect your loan approval. It is simple to add to your loan and may help give you and your family peace of mind.

We are here to help you prepare for the unexpected. In the event a protected borrower passes away, it could cancel your loan balance. If a covered disability occurs due to illness or injury, or become involuntarily unemployed, it could cancel your loan payments, up to the contract maximums.

Our members benefit from MEMBER’S CHOICE™ Borrower Security all year long. Here is how much debt we canceled for our members in 2018.

debt protection infographics.png

With MEMBER’S CHOICE™ Debt Protection Borrower Security, you take the guesswork out of life’s obstacles.

Connect with our Loan Specialists today to discuss your options at 503-275-0300 Option 2.


Have you entered our Read to Win Contest?** Check out the official rules HERE

QUESTION 2 :  What is the total amount of loan payments we cancelled in 2018 for our USAgencies Members who were Disabled?

*Your purchase of MEMBER’S CHOICE™ Debt Protection is optional and will not affect your application for credit or the terms of any credit agreement required to obtain a loan. Certain eligibility requirements, conditions, and exclusions may apply. Please contact your loan representative, or refer to the Member Agreement for a full explanation of the terms of Debt Protection. You may cancel the protection at any time. If you cancel protection within 30 days you will receive a full refund of any fee paid. DP-2409197.1-0219-0321

**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Terms and conditions apply, read the official contest rules for complete details. open to individuals ages 18 and over. Board of Directors, Volunteers and Employees of USACU and their immediate families and individuals living in the same household are ineligible. Void where prohibited.

Tips to Improve Your Credit Before Buying a Home

Brought to you by our friends at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection

In general, the best mortgage interest rates go to borrowers with credit scores in the mid-700s or above. These borrowers also typically have the most offers available to them.

Haven’t checked your credit report recently? Now is the time to do so. You’ll have concrete information to help you make the best decisions about what to do next. And, you’ll find out if there are any errors on your credit report that may be lowering your credit scores. You’ll also see which areas you may be able to improve. Checking your own credit won’t hurt your credit scores.

It’s important to understand that you don’t have just one credit score. There are many credit scoring formulas, and the score will also depend on the data used to calculate it. Today, most mortgage lenders use FICO scores when deciding whether to offer you a loan, and in setting the rate and terms. Most mortgage lenders request and evaluate your credit scores and the scores of any co-borrowers from all three major credit reporting companies and make their decisions based on the middle score.

Check out our step-by-step guide to checking your credit reports and scores. We cover the basics on how credit reports and scores work, how to get a copy of your reports and scores, how to check for errors, and how to file a dispute if you find errors.

If you’re worried about your credit scores, rebuilding your credit (or building it for the first time) won’t happen overnight. But there are steps you can take and mortgage options you can consider if your score isn’t where you want it to be.

Questions? Connect with our Loan Specialists today at 503-275-0300 Option 2.


Are you up for an easy challenge to win some extra cash? Subscribe to our blog for a chance to win a $50 cash prize*.

Entering the contest is easy.  Here’s how it works:

  • Subscribe to our blog by entering your email in the box above the “Follow” button on the left menu
  • Each week in February, we will publish a blog along with the trivia question at the end of each blog
  • Email your answers to social@usacu.org by February 28, 2019

QUESTION 1:  What score does most mortgage lenders use when deciding to offer loans?

Official Contest Rules

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Terms and conditions apply, read the official contest rules for complete details. open to individuals ages 18 and over. Board of Directors, Volunteers and Employees of USACU and their immediate families and individuals living in the same household are ineligible. Void where prohibited.

Affected by the Government Shutdown?

This blog was a combined effort with our friends at GreenPath Financial Wellness.

Over the weekend, the partial government shutdown passed it’s 22nd day, making it the longest shutdown in history. Of the about 800,000 federal employees affected, nearly 380,000 have been furloughed (given a leave of absence) and the remainder continue to work without pay.

While most people affected by the shutdown are located in the Washington D.C. area, workers going without pay can be found nationwide.

For millions of Americans, an unexpected financial setback can make it feel like your world is caving in around you. If you or a loved one has been affected by the government shutdown, it’s important to know that you are not alone and that everything is going to be okay. We offer the steps below to support you in setting a plan for your expenses:

Step 1: List Out and Prioritize Your Expenses

The first thing to do is understand your overall financial situation so you can get an idea of what you need to pay and what you have to work with. Use GreenPath’s budgeting worksheet to list out your expenses and due dates.
When prioritizing which bills you should pay first, begin with basic needs (shelter, food, heat, lights).

Once you’ve taken care of yourself, attend to your debts in order of priority. While threats of a low credit score or calls from a debt collector can be intimidating, it’s important to focus on paying down debts with collateral (something that can be taken from you) such as a house or car payment. After your financial crisis passes, you can work on catching up with unsecured debts like credit cards, internet, and cable bills.

Step 2: Open Lines of Communication

Talk to your lenders or creditors to see if there is anything you can do regarding upcoming bills. Many financial institutions and service providers are offering assistance programs and other freebies to employees experiencing financial hardship during the shutdown, ranging from no-interest loans to refunding normal fees. Many utility companies also offer utility payment plans for people with financial hardships.

Step 3: Look for Ways to Generate Cash, And Cut Spending Where Possible

One additional option for furloughed workers is to apply for unemployment. (Note, those who continue to work through the shutdown are not eligible for unemployment insurance.) It is also important to know that any unemployment compensation given during a shutdown must be repaid once the government reopens. Several federal websites, such as the Office of Personnel Management’s, have FAQs for furloughed workers that include information on how to file for benefits.

In addition to finding additional sources of money, evaluate your current spending habits to see where you may be able to make adjustments to spend less: set a strategy to save money on groceries, see if you can freeze your gym membership, reduce your cable bill, lower your energy usage, and cut any non-essential spending you can such as entertainment and eating out.

Step 4: Call USAgencies Credit Union

Here at USAgencies Credit Union, we pride ourselves on the things we won’t do, and one of those is that we won’t turn our backs to our members when they need us to most. Our hope is to provide our members some peace of mind, however we can. Give us a call at 503-275-0300 so that we can see what we can do to help during this stressful time.

Debt Consolidation Loans

What is a Debt Consolidation Loan?

In general, a debt consolidation loan can be defined as a loan that combines multiple debt obligations into one single loan. These loans tend to have lower interest rates than many existing debts. They also allow the borrowers to make only one payment per month instead of many.

Advantages

  • Pays off high-interest credit cards or other debts with low-interest loans
  • One easy monthly payment to make
  • A closed-end loan will result in a set payment schedule
  • May result in lower overall monthly payments
  • Establishes good credit history, if paid back as agreed

Things to be Prepared For

  • Some type of collateral may be required before approval
  • A co-signer on the loan may be required before approval
  • Credit score will be a significant factor

As you can see, there are some important factors to consider. If you are struggling with high credit card debt, you first must strive to change your spending habits and learn to live within your means. Setting a budget is the first step, and with Money Management you can know your accounts, track your budget, and watch your spending all  in one place.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to consider a debt consolidation loan if you will be continuing to incur monthly balances on your credit cards. In the long run, you will end up having a higher overall debt balance if your spending behavior does not change.


Is it time to tackle your post-holiday debt and give your budget a breath of fresh air? Our Debt Consolidation loan offers you that chance. Connect with our Loan Specialist today at 503-275-0300 Option 2 to apply today. 

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